Tax-Free Shopping in Japan

Nov 6, 2020

When traveling in Japan, the sign “Tax-Free” is fairly common. As Japan experiences an increase in overseas tourists, there are tons of shops and malls offering tax-free shopping all over the nation. The Japanese tax exemption framework was updated in May 2016 to make it more convenient to shop for international tourists! Let’s look at what “tax-free” means, as well as how Japanese tax-free shopping works!

Tax-Free Shopping in Japan

Only shops with the requisite permit offer a tax-free shopping experience. They are most usually shops in and around airports, major supermarkets, and department stores. Recently, many shopping streets and malls have set up tax-free counters, and many smaller shops have also started providing the service. 

The tax exemption scheme primarily targets foreign visitors to Japan and extends to anyone who comes to Japan as a non-resident and stays for less than 6 months. Even Japanese citizens living abroad and visiting Japan for less than 6 months will enjoy tax-free shopping! However, people without having the stamped date of entry in the passport; people who stay longer than 6 months or currently working in Japan will not be able to shop tax-free

“Duty-Free” and “Tax-Free” in Japan

Duty-free and tax-free are two different styles of tax exemption in Japan. “Tax-free” meaning is pretty obvious whereas “duty-free” refers to government tax exemption. “Duty-Free” stores are most often located at airports or Okinawa.

Consumption Tax in Japan?

Consumption tax in Japan has been 10% since 1 October 2019. Certain goods are taxed at a reduced rate of 8%, which includes: take-out meals, beverages, hotel’s refrigerator/minibar drinks, etc. On the other hand, hotel room services, or food and drinks are usually being purchased with a 10% consumption tax. 

You can check out FULL information about Tax in Japan HERE!

What is the Minimum Purchase Amount to Shop Tax-Free?

Overall, the total transaction amount of goods purchased in the same shop the same day must be at least 5,000 yen, excluding tax. In shopping malls and grocery stores with a tax-free desk, the amount spent in all shops of the location is added to the tax exemption. 

What products can be purchased free of charge in Japan? 

The tax exemption applies when purchased goods are managed to bring out of Japan and are intended for use or consumption by individual people, not for business purposes. Besides, they are divided into general goods and consumables. 

Consumable goods are packed in special biodegradable bags that are sealed on purchase. They should not be opened before they leave Japan. Please be aware that you can not combine general goods and consumables with duty-free shopping – the sum of each category must total at least 5,000 yen.

The Procedure for Tax-Free Shopping in Japan

There are two different types of tax exemption procedures depending on malls or stores.  

Type A: At the time of purchasing, submit your passport and pay for your goods with the tax already deducted. 

Type B: Pay the full price, including the consumption tax, and head to the tax-free counter on the same day of purchase. 

Here, submit your passport, your purchase, and receipt for Japanese sales tax refunds. 

At The Store 

Step 1: Show your passport

Copies will not be accepted. Confirm your name, nationality, date of birth, residence status, date of entry to Japan, and passport number. 

Step 2: Ask for the Purchase Record 

Ask the cashier or the staff at the tax-free counter to create the Purchase Record. In fact, in most shops, the staff will know what to do and write it down without the need to ask for it. This slip will be attached to your passport – be careful not to remove it, as it will be taken by the airport customs officials when you leave Japan.

Step 3: Sign the Purchaser’s Pledge

This is a pledge in which you promise the following:

– that you take general goods out of the country

– that you will not use the purchased consumable goods and take them out of Japan within 30 days

– that you will pay a supplementary consumption tax if you cannot present the goods at the time of leaving Japan

Step 4: Payment 

In the case of (A), you will pay the amount with the consumption tax already retrieved. 

In the case of (B), you will pay the full amount, including the consumption tax. 

If the amount is to be lower than the minimum amount for the Japanese sales tax refund because of returns, etc., the tax exemption is canceled for all items and you will be required to pay the full amount. 

At The Airport

Step 5: Submit Your Purchase Record 

The customs officials will confirm your passport and the items you have purchased without tax. They can also collect the Purchase Record attached to your passport. Overall, you need to carry the tax-free stuff that you bought with you when you leave Japan. 

The tax exemption procedure is finished after the customs procedure.

Tax-Free in Japan

The tax exemption scheme primarily targets foreign visitors to Japan and extends to anyone who comes to Japan as a non-resident and stays for less than 6 months. Even Japanese citizens living abroad and visiting Japan for less than 6 months will enjoy tax-free shopping! The travel rates of Japan is increasing recently, but please bear in mind to practice social distance and wear a mask while enjoying your shopping trip! 

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